Mercedes and BMW each set new all-time highs for worldwide sales for the seventh straight year while Audi had record sales for the eighth consecutive year. There’s little evidence to suggest these streaks are at risk, at least from a global perspective. This success should help the three automakers to navigate a more difficult landscape in Europe, where diesel demand is declining, which makes it harder for them to reach tougher emissions goals that start to take full effect in 2021. The trio must also cope with the continued decline in the lucrative UK market, which is set to retreat further because of Britain’s pending exit from the EU.
Mercedes will try to maintain its product momentum, which has resulted in 58 straight months of record sales. A key arrival this year will be the new A class, which marks the beginning of the automaker’s refreshing of its compact family. Models such as the A and B class accounted for more than a quarter of Mercedes’ nearly 2.29 million global sales last year. China is the largest market for the A- and B- class models.
In addition, Mercedes has said it will increase the number of variants offered in its compact range to nine, up from six now. Future variants will include an SUV and a seven-seat model for the B-class family as well as sportier A-class variants, possibly a coupe and a convertible.
Daimler will also spend time in 2018 shifting some of its attention to boosting the structural speed and flexibility of its organization to respond faster to the changing landscape. In April, its shareholders will vote whether to approve the creation of two legally independent manufacturing units, one focusing on passenger cars and light commercial vehicles and the other on heavy trucks. Some analysts see this as the prelude to a possible partial listing of the latter.